Queensland senior assessment and tertiary entrance changes examined
IEUA-QNT Treasurer/Assistant Secretary and Senior Secondary Assessment Taskforce nominee Paul Giles reports on the incoming changes to senior assessment and tertiary entrance requirements in Queensland as well as the ongoing role of the Taskforce in making recommendations to the state government.
Changes to senior assessment
The Queensland Government has announced sweeping reforms to senior school assessment with a reduction in the pieces of assessment per subject.
The new plans mean that from 2019, students across the state will have just three school assessments and one external assessment per subject towards their exit assessment.
This means each subject will include four pieces of assessment with one of these to be marked externally.
The trials, set to commence from May this year in 250 schools, will determine if the new curriculum is on the right track and what impact it will have on students and teachers. In maths and science, students will have 50 per cent of their final year’s marks decided by one external exam, and in other subjects, the external assessment will represent 25 per cent.
The role of the Senior Secondary Assessment Taskforce
In 2014, Gabrielle Matters and Geoff Masters of the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) provided a review report to the Queensland Government - Queensland Review of Senior Assessment and Tertiary Entrance.
The review made over 20 recommendations for senior assessment and tertiary entrance requirements including the retirement of the OP (Overall Position) system and transition to ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank).
In 2015, the Senior Secondary Assessment Taskforce was established to provide advice to the Queensland Government, and specifically to Education Minister Kate Jones, who chairs the group.
Our union has participated in robust discussion regarding the changes.
During meetings last year, advice was provided in terms of the development and implementation of new senior assessment and tertiary entrance systems for students entering year 11 in 2018. The Taskforce encompasses a wide cross section of stakeholders including the IEUA-QNT, the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU), Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA), parents, universities, employers and principals.
It is expected that the group will continue to provide advice to Minister Jones until the senior assessment changes are fully implemented.
The state government seeks to adopt the recommendations of the Matters/ Masters report with the changes being put into place by the government and operationalised by the QCAA.
A proposed four-year timeline of introducing the new system proposed by the QCAA has been endorsed by the Taskforce with the new system of senior assessment and tertiary entrance occurring for the 2019 Year 12 cohort.
A number of practical activities are underway this year for the senior assessment implementation to occur including:
- Expert writing teams consulting with the teacher workforce in the re-writing of 81 syllabuses. These syllabuses will be more directive, taking into consideration proposed assessment structure/s;
- Pre-endorsement of formative assessment;
- Emphasis on improving review panellists’/assessors’ judgement;
- Accreditation of review panellists/ assessors;
- Trialling of Year 11 external assessments in – Maths B, English, Chemistry, Geography, Modern History;
- Continuation of current certification for tertiary entrance continues (QCS test, OPs, QCE); and
- Consideration of certification of tertiary entrance mechanism/s (ATAR).
- The Taskforce is currently reviewing the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) and the role that this will have in Queensland in the future. Consideration is being given to matters including:
- Who should calculate the ATAR?
- What (if any) scaling should occur between subjects?
- The number of subjects for inclusion; and
- The role of English subject/s in gaining an ATAR.
With its wide representation and scope, the Taskforce is making a diversity of supported views available to the Minister and our union along with the QTU are ensuring that members’ voices are being strongly heard.